Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Mountain Biking the Hill Boundary of Powys - Travel Journal and Stats

Day 1:  Thursday 26.07.90   Welshpool – Long Mountain – below the Berwyn

The big journey has started, three weeks non-stop sunshine and we’ve just picked the week that the weather is supposed to break, roll on the thunder!  Met up with Baz and Ma for a start at 6.10pm, first thing to happen was a 48 mph sprint down the Long Mountain, the backup vehicle then had an encounter with a very large combine harvester, followed by going the wrong way by Trewern.  Mind you, the occupant is a mighty fine cook and without Barry and the mighty fine cook none of this would be taking place.  Baz dropped behind at Criggion and later took over the controls at Llansanffraid.  The beautiful evening saw Mark and I set a good pace all the way to Llanrhaeadr, a 10min wait and away.  The next, and last four miles proved quite exhausting, by the end my legs were wobbling.  Camp was made by a fantastic small brook which can now be heard smoothly flowing by Mark’s left shoulder.  Lots of tea, hot dogs, cake and more and we’re on the sleeping bags.  Tomorrows the Berwyn, the first big hills and the weather seems stormy.  God this is bliss!!

Day 1 Stats:

 Mileage:  30.56 miles.

Ascent Cycling:  862m / 2,828ft.
 Time Taken:  2hrs 51mins 45secs.

Average Speed:  10.4 mph.

Maximum Speed:  48 mph.

Day 2:  Friday 27.07.90   The Berwyn – Bwlch y Groes – Dinas Mawddwy

Made it over the Berwyn and Bwlch y Groes and into Dinas Mawddwy, the last five miles took their toll – I nearly threw a wobbly, even now I feel a bit dodgy – more later.  Up at 7.00am, met the local farmer before our stream wash and brek.  The arrangement was for Baz and Mum to meet us on top of the Llangynog – Bala road at about 12.30pm.  We set off at 9.00am for a cycle ride into the mist, the rain soon started – a pleasant change from the last three weeks.  Through the forest with bikes on shoulders for a very knackering slog up to the ridge.  Thoughts of what lay ahead darted through my mind, I felt shattered and we had nine days of the same and worse ahead.  The mists ran up past us just enough for us to spot the way onto the ridge, one mountain done, seven to go.  The downward progress was haphazard; wind, rain, mist, peat bogs and compass readings.  An hour to do three miles in some wild scenery, brilliant when the bikes were going, in some places torturous when they weren’t.  Eventually we hit the road with yelps of joy to be met with mug after mug of tea, butties and cakes.  45 mins later and the elements hit us again for a spectacular four mile run downhill towards Bala, left by the lake for a great couple of photos with some cycling comrades, then Wales’ second highest public road, which took a bit of doing.  More rain but still brilliant, down and onwards to Dinas Mawddwy feeling decidedly wobbly with the few very minor up hills that were left.  Food was wanted and quickly, the camp site was reached with everything in place.  I felt wrecked and took hours to recover, tomorrows probably the easiest full day; Mach for bike lock and the County Times for a camp at the base of Pumlumon.  If the rest goes like today it should physically and mentally take its toll, but of course be worthwhile.

Day 2 Stats:

Mileage:  31.67 miles.  (Overall mileage:  62.23 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  498m / 1,634ft.  (Overall cycling ascent:  1,360m / 4,462ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  462m / 1,516ft.

Time Taken:  5hrs 31mins 46secs.  (Overall time:  8hrs 23mins 31secs).

Average Speed:  5.6 mph.

Maximum Speed:  39 mph.

Day 3:  Saturday 28.07.90   Dinas Mawddwy – Machynlleth – below Pumlumon

Today has been bliss, sun and superb scenery; we’re camping at the base of Pumlumon, what could be better.  Snuggled up in the sleeping bag with a most beautiful half-moon shining over Nant y Moch, this really is just about perfect; the back-up is beyond belief.  Started off rather late due to my map holder, I sped off in pursuit of Mark and Barry only to find them behind me.  We cycled through Aberangell towards Mach next to hawks, hedgerows and the sun.  Found Mum in Mach, as well as a bicycle repair shop who’d read about our little venture in today’s County Times.  Mark’s Spitfire had a service while we roamed around the town, most odd coming in to what seemed a big city with its thriving population and we’ve only been away a couple of days.  A brilliant dinner followed by a quick spurt to Tal-y-bont, here we turned off and up the mountain road aiming for Nant y Moch and our next mountain Pumlumon.  Barry joined us for the spectacular ride up and up with the Cambrian coast stretching out as far as what I think were the Preseli hills way out over there somewhere.  The ride towards our camp site was very, very nice.  Bare chested feeling content for magical four or five hours with lots of food, photos, a paddle, music, more photos and a perfect moon, this just seems to get better and better.
Day 3 Stats:

Mileage:  37.7 miles.   (Overall mileage:  99.93 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  694m / 2,277ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  2,054m / 6,739ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill: None.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  462m / 1,516ft).

Time Taken:  5hrs 23mins 19secs.   (Overall time:  13hrs 46mins 50secs).

Average Speed:  6.8 mph.

Maximum Speed:  35 mph.

Day 4:  Sunday 29.07.90   Pumlumon – Devil’s Bridge – below Drygarn Fawr

The evening has been spent bathing in the local river, followed by extinguishing the local midge pest.  Took a bit of doing getting up this morning, but when we did, it only took about an hour to set off.  Up the track for a steady plod towards Pumlumon, first cycling and secondly carrying, more mist, rain and wind, seems to be our norm for the mountains.  Met Kevin Dawsom on top who very kindly sponsored us £2.00, one wind swept photo before a quick compass reading and away for a 25min dash to Eisteddfa Gurig, superb with Mark leading the way and the mists clearing, the back end flipped a couple of times giving me the immediate prospect of being sent into orbit over the handle bars.  The back-up moved towards Devil’s Bridge where we joined them for refreshments.  We carried on in showers towards Cwmystwyth and the mountain road for the splendour of the Elan valley.  Barry joined us at the top for the last 12 miles to the Rhiwnant, past the dams, another day of Wales’ grandeur with more brilliant none A roads.  The unsure thought of the daily mileage and hills has gone; we’ve now done three full days each over 30 miles, with two of the eight mountain ranges done in quite miserable conditions.  The cycling is OK, the back-up is very excellent, the hills seem OK and so far the bikes are sticking the bumps.  I think between the four of us we may pull it off.  It’s even pouring down with rain at the moment and it’s the one I wasn’t looking forward to tomorrow – Drygarn Fawr – and I’m not nervous / apprehensive at all, 41 miles tomorrow – the biggest / longest day of the trip.

Day 4 Stats:

Mileage:  37 miles.   (Overall mileage:  136.93 miles). 

Ascent Cycling:  577m / 1,893ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  2,631m / 8,632ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  402m / 1,319ft.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  864m / 2,835ft). 

Time Taken:  5hrs 07mins 15secs.   (Overall time:  18hrs 54mins 05secs).

Average Speed:  6.6mph 

Maximum Speed:  37mph.

Day 5:  Monday 30.07.90   Drygarn Fawr – Llanwrtyd Wells – below Mynydd Du

Beautiful camp site, beautiful evening, Mynydd Du with the setting sun on it, it rivals the moon over Nant y Moch.  The midges killed us last night.  Up at 7.15am, away at 8.30am, we pushed the bikes until some old mines and then just headed up, all through wet ferns and grass – due to another wet night.  We then carried the bikes for at least three miles through some quite disgusting wet, massive grass tussocks, peat, bogs and more of the same, quite horrible.  The top was reached for Mark to celebrate by pulling a wheelie on top of the bee hive cairn.  Down to hit the forest on the right track for a quick whizz down, hit the road for another one of those wild cycles – this time to Abergwesyn.  Barry came out to meet us for bacon and egg baps at Llanwrtyd Wells, next was the outskirts of Mynydd Epynt for superb views back to the wilds of mid Wales and on to the higher hills of south Wales – our next four mountain ranges were all evident – Mynydd Du, Fforest Fawr, the Beacons and the Black Mountains.  Weird country – just one through road with army personnel very evident, visited Trecastle for the first time for all of five seconds and then onto our great camp site for tomorrows hill – Mynydd Du to show itself.  The night is starry, hopefully clear skies, tomorrow for one of Wales’ most beautiful mountains.  We’re cracking it.

Day 5 Stats: 

Mileage:  37.19 miles   (Overall mileage:  174.12 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  608m / 1,995ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  3,239m / 10,627ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  395m / 1,296ft.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  1,259m / 4,131ft). 

Time Taken:  8hrs 03mins 35secs.   (Overall time:  26hrs 57mins 40secs).

Average Speed:  4.5mph.

Maximum Speed:  43mph.

Day 6:   Tuesday 31.07.90   Mynydd Du – Fforest Fawr – below the Brecon Beacons

The sun’s out and I’m getting burned, five days gone, three to go.  More midges and the little swine’s are killers, they are not pleasant.  The days are beginning to merge into one another, today Mynydd Du and Fforest Fawr, tomorrow the Beacons, yesterday Drygarn Fawr.  The round circle is slowly, that should be quickly, being completed.  Today we set off from the exquisite camp site to nearly overshoot a corner and end up in a dingle.  Boiling morning with us taking our time past the filter beds, then a slog up to gain the ridge, Mynydd Du is beautiful, cycling on the Fan Hir ridge was pretty spectacular as well, we cycled from the top to within a few hundred yards of the road to be met by Barry.  A great cycle down with arms and legs pumped up.  A quick drink in the pub and away in the increasingly hot temperature, one big hill took us to our late dinner spot and away again with the hills of Fforest Fawr on our right, the Black Mountains ahead with Pen y Fan and Corn Du rising up in the distance.  We set a good pace coming up the Storey Arms road in very hot sunshine, a quick rest before an incredible 30 mins with bikes to the top of Fan Fawr, only resting once for Mark to have a quick pee and me to take one photo.  On top was brilliant, a stunner of a summers evening, brilliant views.  We came down in 12 mins, it was a roller coaster of a ride and then the midges hit us, they are quite unwanted.  Another incredible day, our fitness and stamina is by now pretty good, the Beacons tomorrow.  Reached 52 mph from our dinner stop to the Storey Arms ‘A’ road, Mark shot past a car while I nearly had a close encounter with a sheep.

Day 6 Stats:

Mileage:  23.2 miles   (Overall mileage:  197.32 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  580m / 1,903ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  3,819m / 12,529ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  893m / 2,930ft.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  2,152m / 7,060ft).

Time Taken:  4hrs 15mins 09secs.   (Overall time:  31hrs 12mins 49secs).

Average Speed:  4.4mph.

Maximum Speed:  52mph.

Day 7:   Wednesday 01.08.90   Brecon Beacons – Crickhowell – below the Black Mountains

I feel exhausted; it’s getting to the stage when I can’t remember where I woke up in the mornings.  This morning we had a burn up to Pen y Fan, hot sun, clear views and lots of sweat pushing, and on an odd occasion riding the bikes for a slog up of 55mins, overtaking walkers with none overtaking us.  The ridge down was quite spectacular, trying to keep to the bumpy ridge path with an awful long drop off to the left.  We hit the road for a few sizzling hills – it was by now very hot; the van arrived for another superb long stop in the sun.  Barry picked up a puncture on the way to Crickhowell, to go with the minor adjustments to Mark’s brake block and my rear wobbling wheel (bad buckle folks).  Onward to our evening stop next to a stream with a magical fire and bangers and beans, two hills to do.

Day 7 Stats:

Mileage:  34.1 miles   (Overall mileage:  231.42 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  570m / 1,870ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  4,389m / 14,399ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  483m / 1,585ft.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  2,635m / 8,645ft).

Time Taken:  (too exhausted to make a note – 5hrs approx).   (Overall time:  36hrs 12mins 49secs).

Average Speed: (too exhausted to make a note).

Maximum Speed (too exhausted to make a note).

Day 8:   Thursday 02.08.90  Black Mountains – Gospel Pass – Hay-on-Wye

Radio this morning said it was going to be in the 90’s and this upcoming Saturday is being predicted as the warmest day ever in Wales – a possible 95°.  Wow, and here’s us taking 2½ - 3 stone of gear over big hills and mountain passes.  Out quick to feel kaput on the way to the base of Waun Fach, sweat dripping temperature soaring.  The hill didn’t look at all bad, I had horrific thoughts of a carry up and down, past the wild horses and there we were on top, 65mins with 15mins to come down – another magic ride.  Met Barry at the bottom for a cycle back down the road, and then a left for the last leg back to Welshpool – up the Gospel Pass, Wales’ highest public road, this was sweated over after another marvellous lunch stop – down into Hay overtaking the traffic, a quick drink, shop and then to find yet another great camp site for another very relaxing evening.  One hill and two days to go.

Day 8 Stats:

Mileage:  34.85 miles.   (Overall mileage:  266.27 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  485m / 1,591ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  4,874m / 15,991ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  396m / 1,299ft.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  3,031m / 9,944ft).

Time Taken:  5hrs 44mins 01sec   (Overall time:  41hrs 56mins 50secs).

Average Speed:  5.9mph.

Maximum Speed:  40mph.

Day 9:   Friday 03.08.90   Hay-on-Wye – Radnor Forest – Llanfair Waterdine

It’s been a little bit on the hot side today.  The first 16 miles out of Hay took its toll; we sizzled in the increasingly hot temperature.  Dinner was at Kinnerton, Barry joined us for the last of the eight – the Radnor Forest, nearly six miles of forest tracks took us to Great Rhos, coming down was fun.  The afternoon was again hot as we came through Knighton to our camp site.  I’m tired, the last leg tomorrow.

Day 9 Stats:

Mileage:  40.91 miles.   (Overall mileage:  307.18 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  931m / 3,054ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  5,805m / 19,045ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  405m / 1,329ft.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  3,436m / 11,273ft).

Time Taken:  6hrs 32mins 33secs.   (Overall time:  48hrs 29mins 23secs).

Average Speed:  6.1mph.

Maximum Speed:  50mph.

Day 10:   Saturday 04.08.90  Llanfair Waterdine – Kerry Ridgeway – Long Mountain

It’s over, we did it.

Day 10 Stats:

Mileage:  58.24 miles.   (Overall mileage:  365.42 miles).

Ascent Cycling:  1,152m / 3,779 ft.   (Overall cycling ascent:  6,957m / 22,825ft).

Ascent Bikes on Hill:  None.   (Overall bikes on hill ascent:  3,436m / 11,273ft).

Time Taken:  7hrs 21mins 25secs.   (Overall time:  55hrs 50mins 48secs).

Average Speed:  7.8mph.

Maximum Speed:  45mph.

Overall Ten Day Stats:

Mileage:  370 miles consisting of 322.75 miles cycling on roads and 47.25 miles with the bikes on the hill including approximately 5 miles carrying bikes (not registered on their speedo).

Ascent:  10,393m / 34,098ft consisting of 6,957m / 22,825ft cycling on roads and 3,436m / 11,273ft with the bikes on the hill.

Time Taken:  55hrs 50mins 48secs (time spent cycling on roads and with the bikes on the hill was not separated).

Average Speed:  6.6mph.

Maximum Speed:  52mph (Day 6).

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